“Being the 8th child in a family of 12 siblings and 2 parents, Mr. K.Y from his childhood has long harbored the intention of having a “large” family for himself; than his father’s even. Doomsday fell as he found out that his wife is webbed up in a condition that is most likely to end up in infertility. Suddenly, the thought of the latter being greater than the former seems unattainable in his case.”If this scenario occurred few decades ago, it might be an irreversible case of infertility. However, in the 21st century, with the advent of more sophisticated and novel methods of health care administration, more health conditions are losing their place under the description “impossible”.
The emerging nexus of medicine and technology has birthed trending coinages like MedTech, HealthTech, TeleHealth, etc. MedTech simply covers technologies used to improve the quality of healthcare. It generally covers medical devices, IT, biotech and other healthcare services and methodologies. Such methods include in-vitro fertilization (IVF) which provides a chance for barren couples to have children. The process, however, is quite expensive and almost inaccessible to every and any average man.
In-Vitro Fertilization is simply the medical process of fertilization where an egg and a sperm is co-joined outside the body. The developing embryo is then injected into the uterus of the woman for child bearing. IVF is a form of assisted reproductive technology used for infertility treatment and gestational surrogacy. In a report released on the 18th of October, 2018 on the Crunchbase News website, the IVF procedure, at its first round costs up to $20,000 (#7,290,000m). It is without doubt that the process, although ameliorative, is also similarly expensive. In response to this, HealthTech companies are beginning to step into the picture to play Messiah via the release of subsidies and loans for the rather costly processes; prime of them is Claire Tomkins’ FUTURE FAMILY.
To help close the gap of affordability, research shows that the San Francisco based company, has raised a $10million Series A Funding to heave patients off a reasonable portion of their financial commitments. Having being supported by like-passion companies such as iNovia, Launch Capital and others, the company was able to raise about $14.2million.
According to the report of the Center for Health Statistics, USA, 12.1% of women in the US within the age of 15-44 have impaired fecundity, 6.7% married women within the same age bracket are infertile and up to 7.3 million women have used infertility services. This makes the contribution of the Future Family company a rather commendable one.
DO WE HAVE HEALTHTECH COMPANIES IN NIGERIA?
YES! A whole lot to be candid. I’d list some:
- Safermom: It is a maternal and infant mortality based system.
- Interswitch Health: Provides digital infrastructure for the facilitation of record keeping, claims processes, administration services and much more. Basically provides relief for time-consuming hospital tasks.
- Omomi: A system that perform quasi-parental monitoring function. Helps parents keep tab on their children’s health for as low as N600.
- Find-a-med: A directional guide to any health facility.
- Curacel Health: A secure web and mobile based system for health providers to manage their operations with less effort and make efficient decisions about patients and their practice
Others include APMIS, Medenhanz, Doklink, Medical Device As A Service (MDAAS), and Drugstore.ng
One reoccurring similarity between these healthtech startup companies is the implementation of technology for quick access to medical advice, proper collation and documentation of files.
None of these startup companies have actually followed the path of providing finance to expand access to medical services for the average Nigerian patient.
There is thus room for an HealthTech startup to specialize in this field for maximum gains.
In Tanzania, there are healthtech startups like Jamii which is a micro-health insurance. It uses low-end mobile technology to launch insurance policies which are is as low as US$1 per month for the low-income earners. This has in no small way facilitated the access of every class of the society to good and quality healthcare. There are other great healthcare startups in Africa, such as iMoSyS Health (Malawi), Mama-Ope (Uganda), and SnooCODE RED (Ghana), amongst others.
Africa is no longer lagging in the world of medical innovation and technological explosion. However, for our dear country Nigeria, it would be quite resourceful if more attention is paid towards creating finance-related HealthTech systems. This way, we would not just have knowledge of what made us ill, we’d also have the finance to make us healed.
By Olalekan Temidayo Victor, Content Writer at DigiLaw